Divest – by Sue Laurie
I am an evangelist. I invite people to trust God with their whole being. For many years, my prayer has been to offer my own vulnerability in the struggle for LGBT inclusion. This prayer brings the challenge of being authentic on the journey.
As an openly lesbian United Methodist, my presence is “rewarded” with uncomfortable looks and hurtful situations. I can feel the hate.
But this vulnerability, this effort to keep my guard down, also allows me to worship with an open spirit and to sing the hymns in a way that fills my heart and soul for the good. I can feel the love as well. I am confident in Christ. I invite others to join me in faith.
The effort to educate, pray and cajole the UMC toward inclusion has been very important to me. I have committed my life and my passion to this for years. I have been faithful.
I think of Paul in Philippians 3. He was a role model for “righteous under the law, blameless”. Me too!
Then Paul divested from that way of thinking. He began to regard former place and privilege as rubbish. Paul put his trust in God, his faith in Christ.
Julie and I are church people; we have invested sacrificially in the United Methodist Church. But we are not to trust the church more than God. Our second class membership becomes a second class witness.
We need to worship in a place where we can invite others into the community — without warning them to keep their guard up.
We can no longer abide the duplicity of the UMC. We have had to go elsewhere—a neighborhood UCC–where we can invite others… to be authentic, to trust God, and thrive in the Spirit.
“Beloved, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but this one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the heavenly call of God in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 3:13f.
Sue Laurie and Julie Bruno met at Edinboro UMC in Edinboro, PA. They will celebrate their 31 anniversary this fall. Sue earned her MDIV from Garrett-ETS in 1995 and was turned down for ordination because she is lesbian… and told them so. Sue and Julie have attended five General Conferences so far and given the witness their all. “We do miss those UM Hymnals and songbooks.”
Divesting – by Deborah Buffton
I was a lifelong United Methodist until 2003. My dad is a retired United Methodist pastor and I was baptized, confirmed and married in the church. Throughout most of my life I supported the church financially (often significantly more than simply a tithe) and I served in leadership roles on the Church Council, Outreach Committees, Worship Committees, choir, and more.
However, in 2004 I left the local church to which I belonged, feeling that I really didn’t “belong” there, and I have never joined another UMC. This is largely because of the UMC’s contradictory and hurtful stance on GLBT people and issues. Although I have taken pride in the church’s earlier stance on workers’ rights, I am troubled by its current disenfranchisement of GLBT folks.
If and when the church decides to live out the meaning of God’s expansive love and welcome GLBT folks fully into the church, I may return and bring back my prayers, presence, gifts, service and witness.